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Later this month I’m flying to Seoul as I try out two of Qatar Airways’ cabins that I haven’t yet reviewed on Traveling For Miles – the Business Class cabin in the Airbus A320 and the Business Class cabin in the Boeing 777-300ER. This will be my first trip to Seoul and, as I managed to snag one of the great fares I wrote about last year, I’m looking forward to traveling in quite a bit of comfort for a relatively low cost (it’s why I love Qatar Airways so much).
Still, while Qatar Airway undoubtedly offers some great cabins and a level of inflight service you don’t see on US or European airlines, they do appear to have a weakness when it comes to the information they send out to passengers.
Here’s my recent experience:
When I originally booked my flights to Seoul this is what the schedule for the Pisa – Doha leg looked like:
As you can see, the departure time from Pisa clearly shows a 16:35 departure.
At the beginning of March I received an email from Qatar Airways informing me of a schedule change:
The departure time from Pisa was now 18:05 and, if I’m being completely honest, I was quite relieved. When I originally booked my connecting flight to Pisa I wasn’t really paying as much attention as I should have been and I booked myself an unnecessarily tight connection. This schedule change would make things a lot more relaxed for me. Great!
Then, at the end of March, I received another email from Qatar Airways with the rather ominous subject line: “Important: Change to your Qatar Airways flight timings”.
Apparently my flight had reverted back to the original departure time of 16:35.
I’ve done enough flying in my time to know that this didn’t seem quite right – it’s very unusual for an airline to change its schedule only to then change it back to the original departure time. It’s even more unusual for this to all happen within a month.
I went to the Qatar Airways website to check my reservation and there it was still showing the departure time as 18:05:
On the off chance that the “my reservation” section of the Qatar Airways website hadn’t yet been updated I picked up the phone to speak to the airline directly.
While I was on hold I checked Kayak to see what time it showed for the Pisa to Doha flight…..
….and it too still showed the departure time as 6:05 in the evening.
When a customer service agent came on the line I enquired about the flight and he confirmed that the flight was indeed still departing at 18:05 and not 16:35 as the latest email had suggested.
When I asked why the airline was sending out emails with incorrect information the agent tried to say that the email I’d received was sent to show me what my original departure time had been – clearly nonsense. Why would an airline (a) send out emails giving passengers information they clearly don’t need and (b) why would those emails state that the information within shows “revised flight timings“.
I pointed this out to the agent but he either didn’t grasp what I was saying or didn’t want to grasp what I was saying. Either way I left the conversation with the agent promising to email me a new e-ticket showing the correct information.
A few days later another Qatar Airways email dropped into my inbox with the subject line “E-Ticket” and, somewhat unbelievably, this is what the E-ticket showed”
Here is the important bit expanded:
I’ve checked again and the revised e-Ticket is definitely still wrong but, for some reason, Qatar Airways keeps sending out emails with the wrong timings…..that’s not cool.
Admittedly it would be worse if the error was the other way around and the emails were suggesting the flight will be departing later than it actually will – that could see passengers missing their flight completely. But this is still very poor.
Passengers could be booking more expensive flights than they have too to get to Pisa earlier than they actually need to and passengers will definitely find themselves with a considerably longer layover in Pisa than they expected if they believe the Qatar Airways emails. There’s really no excuse for this.
Don’t blindly believe schedule change emails from Qatar Airways. If the airline send you a schedule change notification make sure you check that the information is correct with at least two different sources.
A way to spot an incorrect schedule change email is to look out for “Time Change” typed in red next to a flight whose schedule has changed. If you see those words in the e-ticket then the schedule change is probably correct (I had this in my original, correct, schedule change email) but, if those words don’t appear, regardless of what the rest of the email is telling you the flight times you’re seeing on the e-ticket could well be wrong – check!